After a week and a half of closure due to an influenza outbreak, both Ahousaht schools have welcomed their students and staff back for regular classes.
During the time of the closure both schools were deeply sanitized, and they continue to clean high-touch surfaces, explained Rebecca Atleo, Ahousaht’s education director.
On Monday, Dec. 5 the Maaqtusiis elementary and secondary schools reconvened, and presently have 50 to 60 per cent attendance, said Atleo. On Nov. 28 attendance had dropped to 17 per cent, leading students and staff to be sent home until the outbreak died down. The schools were also closed on Nov. 24 due to high absenteeism.
Though some children and staff members are still at home sick and recovering from the flu, those who are healthy have been back at school and are excited to be there, she explained.
“We were hoping with COVID-19… we wouldn't be going through this, but that flu bug was just horrible,” said Atleo. “I think anytime there's a closure… the kids get disappointed.”
During the time that students and staff were at home, virtual lessons were planned so that children weren’t behind on their teachings, continued Atleo.
At the peak of the flu outbreak, of 238 students at both schools a total of 41 showed up on a Monday, Nov. 28, which prompted the closure. An additional 12 teachers were struck with the bug.
“[The kids are] back into full swing of things, [including] activities for the Christmas holidays and such,” said Atleo.
Though the flu is still circulating within the community, the schools are doing their best to keep everyone healthy, and have schools open for students that are fit to attend, explained Atleo.
Atleo cautions people to stay home when they are feeling under the weather to keep the community, students, and elders safe.
“We've dealt with it the best way we could, always keeping in mind the safety of our children and the community,” said Atleo. “We do have some vulnerable community members as well as those children who have some health issues. And you know, we need to keep them safe as well.”